Configure Varnish and your web server

Configure your web server

Configure your web server to listen on a port other than the default port 80 because Varnish responds directly to incoming HTTP requests, not the web server.

In the sections that follow, we use port 8080 as an example.

To change the Apache 2.2 listen port:

  1. Open /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf in a text editor.
  2. Locate the Listen directive.
  3. Change the value of the listen port to 8080. (You can use any available listen port.)
  4. Save your changes to httpd.conf and exit the text editor.

Modify the Varnish system configuration

To modify the Varnish system configuration:

  1. Open /etc/sysconfig/varnish (or /etc/default/varnish on Debian and Ubuntu) in a text editor.

  2. Set the Varnish listen port to 80:


    For Varnish 4.*, make sure that DAEMON_OPTS contains the correct listening port for the -a parameter (even if VARNISH_LISTEN_PORT is set to the correct value):

    DAEMON_OPTS="-a :80 \
       -T localhost:6082 \
       -f /etc/varnish/default.vcl \
       -S /etc/varnish/secret \
       -s malloc,256m"
  3. Save your changes to /etc/sysconfig/varnish (or /etc/default/varnish on Debian and Ubuntu) and exit the text editor.

Modify default.vcl

This section discusses how to provide minimal configuration so Varnish returns HTTP response headers. This enables you to verify Varnish works before you configure Magento to use Varnish.

To minimally configure Varnish:

  1. Back up default.vcl:

    cp /etc/varnish/default.vcl /etc/varnish/default.vcl.bak
  2. Open /etc/varnish/default.vcl in a text editor.
  3. Locate the following stanza:

    backend default {
      .host = "";
      .port = "80";
  4. Replace the value of .host with the fully qualified host name or IP address and listen port of the Varnish backend or origin server; that is, the server providing the content Varnish will accelerate.

    Typically, this is your web server.

    More information

  5. Replace the value of .port with the web server’s listen port (8080 in this example).

    Example: Apache is installed on host and Apache is listening on port 8080:

    backend default {
      .host = "";
      .port = "8080";

    If Varnish and Apache are running on the same host, we recommend you use an IP address or host name and not localhost.

  6. Save your changes to default.vcl and exit the text editor.

  7. Restart Varnish:

    service varnish restart

If Varnish fails to start, try running it from the command line as follows:

varnishd -d -f /etc/varnish/default.vcl

This should display error messages.

If Varnish does not start as a service, you must configure SELinux rules to allow it to run. Consult the following resources:

Verify Varnish is working

The following sections discuss how you can verify that Varnish is working but without configuring Magento to use it. You should try this before you configure Magento.

Perform the tasks discussed in the following sections in the order shown:

Start Varnish

Enter service varnish start

If Varnish fails to start as a service, start it from the command line as follows:

  1. Start the Varnish CLI:

     varnishd -d -f /etc/varnish/default.vcl
  2. Start the Varnish child process:

    When prompted, enter start

    The following messages display to confirm a successful start:

    child (29805) Started
    200 0
    Child (29805) said
    Child (29805) said Child starts


Log in to the Varnish server and enter the following command:

netstat -tulpn

Look for the following output in particular:

tcp        0      0        *                   LISTEN      32614/varnishd
tcp        0      0   *                   LISTEN      32604/varnishd
tcp        0      0 :::8080                     :::*                        LISTEN      26822/httpd
tcp        0      0 ::1:48509                   :::*                        LISTEN      32604/varnishd

The preceding shows Varnish running on port 80 and Apache running on port 8080.

If you don’t see output for varnishd, make sure Varnish is running.

More information about netstat options

Install the Magento 2 software

Install the Magento 2 software if you haven’t already done so. When prompted for a Base URL, use the Varnish host and port 80 (for Varnish) because Varnish receives all incoming HTTP requests.

Possible error installing Magento:

Error 503 Service Unavailable
Service Unavailable
XID: 303394517
Varnish cache server

If you experience this error, edit default.vcl and add a timeout to the backend stanza as follows:

backend default {
     .host = "";
     .port = "8080";
     .first_byte_timeout = 600s;

Verify HTTP response headers

Now you can verify that Varnish is serving pages by looking at HTML response headers returned from any Magento page.

Before you can look at headers, you must set Magento for developer mode. There are several ways to do it, the simplest of which is to modify .htaccess in the Magento 2 root. You can also use the magento deploy:mode:set command.

Set Magento for developer mode

To set Magento for developer mode, use the magento deploy:mode:set command.

Look at the Varnish log

Make sure Varnish is running then enter the following command on the Varnish server:


In a web browser, go to any Magento 2 page.

A long list of response headers display in your command prompt window. Look for headers like the following:

-   BereqHeader    X-Varnish: 3
-   VCL_call       BACKEND_FETCH
-   VCL_return     fetch
-   BackendOpen    17 default(,,8080) 60914
-   Backend        17 default default(,,8080)
-   Timestamp      Bereq: 1440449534.261791 0.000618 0.000618
-   ReqHeader      Host:
-   ReqHeader      Connection: keep-alive
-   ReqHeader      Content-Length: 86
-   ReqHeader      Cache-Control: max-age=0
-   ReqHeader      Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,image/webp,*/*;q=0.8
-   ReqHeader      Origin:

If headers like these do not display, stop Varnish, check your default.vcl, and try again.

Look at HTML response headers

There are several ways to look at response headers, including using a browser plug-in like Live HTTP Headers (Firefox) or a browser inspector.

The following example uses curl. You can enter this command from any machine that can access the Magento server using HTTP.

curl -I -v --location-trusted '<your Magento base URL>'

For example,

curl -I -v --location-trusted ''

Look for headers like the following:

Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
X-Varnish: 15
Age: 0
Via: 1.1 varnish-v4
X-Magento-Cache-Debug: HIT

Next step

Configure Magento to use Varnish